Sunday, August 1, 2010

Trekking in Harmukh Peaks

Trekking is not just a pastime for eccentrics and bushwalkers-trekking is simply a means of travelling and appreciating the mountains and the people in the most natural way-on foot. There is no technical climbing, only walking sometimes strenuous, sometimes easy-but walking nonetheless. Sound preparation, both physically and mentally, is still vital. It would be a sorry individual who went to Himalayas unprepared. There are several attractive peaks in the bosom of the Himalayas which fascinate traveller and tourists, one such beautiful peak is Harmukh.  ( pilgrimage in kashmir )

Harmukut Ganga in Kashmir

There are so many routes to reach Harmukh (Harmukutaganga) - Gangabal region, via Sonamarg - Nichnai Pass, Bandipore route, Gurez, route, Gulmarg, Wussan - Preng, etc. The shortest route is via, Kangan - Narranaag. The Harmukta identified with Haramukh Peaks is to North of Kashmir surrounded by massive glaciers. Narranaag is mentioned in the Nilmat Purana as "Sodar Tirtha". From Narranaag one has to climb a very steep ascent a distance of approximately 17-20 kms which can be covered in 7 - 8 hours to reach Gangabal Top. As there is no habitation, one comes across Gujjars and Bakerwals here with their flocks of sheep and goat.

It is clear that Kashmiri Pandits have been going for pilgrimage to this much before 6th or 7th century AD. Kashmiri Pandits have been visiting this lake for centuries essentially to immerse Mortal remains of dead relatives and also for peforming Shradaa, Havan both at Gangabal and at Narran Naag. For a Kashmiri Pandit, Gangabal used to be equivalent to sacred river Ganga.

The scenic place has many natural attractions which attract our attention. Kanak Vahini, as mentioned in Neelmat Purana and Rajtarangni Kalhana, or the present day "Krenk Nadi" which flows to the South temple complex of Narran Naag is formed by tributaries that flow from two lakes below Haramukh. These lakes are known Nundkol and Gangabal, referred to as Uttarmanasa in Neelmat Purana. Krenk Nadi joins Sindh stream below near Kangan. ( Buddha Amarnath in Poonch )

Kashmiri Pandits go for pilgrimage to this lake on "Ganga Ashtami" in the month of "Bhadrapada" (a month of Hindu Calendar corresponds to August or early September). There is a rock temple near the bank of the lake and has a Shiva Lingam (The Shiva Lingam, at present, has been broken by some miscreants there). It is a unique experience to watch sunrise and sunset view of the Mt Haramukh - 5755 meters.The lofty clad mountain peaks, alpine forests and grasslands and the sacred lakes are just bewitching and serene.

It is not hard to understand why Haramukh was traditionally revered by the Hindus of Kashmir. Its impressive position can be appreciated from afar, even at Gulmarg, as it dominates the lower Kashmir valley. Not surprisingly, Haramukh and the sacred waters of Gangabal and Nundhkohl became a destination for Hindu pilgrims indeed. It is said that this yatra predated, and was generally held more important than the annual "Shri Baba Amarnath Ji Pilgrimage."         ( Mata Kheer Bhawani  )

A trek/yatra in this region offers spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful flowered campsites and excellent view of sacred Lakes of Nundhkhol and Gangabal.The lofty clad mountain peaks, alpine forests and grasslands plus sacred lakes are just bewitching and serene.One has to take all the provisions with him for at least 4-5 days journey.

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